Walt Disney World Decorations & Holiday Celebrations

Holiday cheer has begun to hit the Walt Disney World Resort, and we are so excited!!!

Here is quick rundown of some of the great Holiday parties, decorations, events, and more that you will be able to find at the Walt Disney World Resort!!!

Walt Disney World

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Select Nights November 8 – December 20, 2013

Walt Disney World
Santa

In case you aren’t familiar, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a separate ticket event that takes place on select nights at Magic Kingdom Park throughout November and December.

 

Parties give you an opportunity to celebrate with snow flurries on Main Street, U.S.A., Disney characters in holiday attire, and very special entertainment offerings, including Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade and Cinderella Castle Dream Lights. For the first time this year, the Celebrate the Magic! castle projection show and Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season fireworks will be enhanced with “Glow With The Show” ears – what an amazing sight this will be!

 

Also new for this year, attendees can experience Jingle Cruise, the first-ever holiday transformation of the Jungle Cruise attraction, which will feature seasonal decor, new holiday jokes and more. Party goers can also pick up a complimentary, event exclusive Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Card that features Donald’s nephews. And when it comes to character greeting opportunities, look for Merida’s Fairytale Garden to stay open for parties this year.

 

This year’s parties will take place from 7 p.m.-midnight on November 8, 11, 14, 15, 17, 21 and 22, and December 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19 and 20. Tickets (which are separate from a regular park ticket) are already on sale now and purchasing ahead of time can actually save you money. Click here to learn more!

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

November 8, 2013 – January 5, 2014

Marvel at millions of glittering lights perfectly synchronized to holiday music.  Share in an awe-inspiring seasonal treat for the entire family. Brilliant multi-colored bulbs wrap the buildings, changing hues and brightness throughout the show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.   As joyful music surrounds you, a sea of twinkling lights form twirling carousels of heavenly angels, toy soldiers, a spinning Earth, and even Santa and his trusty reindeer. It’s something you have to see to believe!

Holidays Around the World 

November 29 –December 30, 2013

Walt Disney World

Share in the sights and sounds of some of the world’s greatest holiday festivities during Holidays Around the World at Epcot. Amid joyful music and seasonal food favorites, time-honored traditions come alive as costumed performers share their country’s holiday heritage throughout World Showcase.

 

Although subject to change, holiday festivities may include:

  • American Adventure
    Meet Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, celebrate the traditions of Hanukkah and discover the spirit of Kwanzaa.
  • Canada
    Follow the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs on a musical tour as you explore seasonal customs of the Great White North.
  • China
    Watch the agile Monkey King weave his tall tale with twists and turns celebrating Chinese New Year.
  • France
    Discover the magic of Père Noël and the joy of the season through a Christmas letter from a child.
  • Germany
    Listen as Helga tells the story of the first Christmas tree and the tale of her first Nutcracker.
  • Italy
    Meet the kind-hearted witch La Befana who arrives on the eve of the Epiphany to grant gifts to good children.
  • Japan
    Hear the fascinating story of the Daruma doll and the Japanese customs of the New Year.
  • Mexico
    Celebrate with Los Tres Reyes Magos, the Three Kings, as they tell of their journey to the Posada and traditions today.
  • Morocco
    Join Taarji, a Moroccan drummer, as he reflects on family traditions commemorating the holiday of Ramadan.
  • Norway
    Spend time with Sigrid and learn about Julenissen, the Christmas Gnome.
  • United Kingdom
    Share in the vivid stories of Father Christmas, dating back to 15th-century England.

Be sure to check the Times Guide for a complete list of appearances and performance times.

Candlelight Processional

November 29 – December 30, 2013

Each night, a celebrity narrator tells the biblical tale of a savior born to a virgin in Bethlehem. All the while, gorgeous choral pieces are woven into the narration as an orchestra and choir provide an inspirational backdrop with songs of hope and joy.

 

For the hearing impaired, an American Sign Language interpreter translates the legendary account, allowing Guests of all kinds the opportunity to enjoy the event.

 

This year, an exciting line-up of narrators—including a few all-new additions to the Candlelight Processional—are set to lend their voices to the storytelling, including:

  • Gary Sinise
    November 29 to December 1, 2013
  • Neil Patrick Harris
    December 2 to December 3, 2013
  • Ashley Judd – NEW! 
    December 4 to December 5
  • Whoopi Goldberg 
    December 6 to December 7, 2013
  • Sigourney Weaver – NEW!
    December 8 to December 10, 2013
  • Dennis Haysbert – NEW!
    December 11 to December 13, 2013
  • James Denton 
    December 14 to December 16, 2013
  • Edward James Olmos
    December 17 to December 19, 2013
  • Trace Adkins
    December 20 to December 22, 2013
  • Steven Curtis Chapman
    December 23 to December 25, 2013
  • Blair Underwood 
    December 26 to December 28, 2013
  • Amy Grant 
    December 29 to December 30, 2013

Show times take place 3 times during each day of the event at 5:00 PM, 6:45 PM and 8:15 PM, except on December 8, 2013, when show times take place at 6:45 PM and 8:15 PM only. Celebrity narrators, dates and other entertainment are subject to change without notice.

Festival of the Seasons

November 15 – December 29, 2013

Celebrate the holidays with live entertainment, photo opportunity and so much more!

 

The Downtown Disney area invites you to embrace the spirit of the season as you enjoy the twinkling lights, a grandiose tree and yuletide touches at every turn. Be sure to bring your little ones to see Santa Claus and then shop for unique gifts at the specialty shops.

Discover a variety of delightful diversions with plentiful holiday sights and sounds.

 

Joyous live entertainment includes:

  • Holiday carolers
  • Latin, jazz and pop performances of cherished holiday songs
  • Costumed stilt walkers and street performers
  • A lively holiday dance party with deejay

Visit with Santa
You can even visit with Santa, share holiday wish lists and enjoy a unique photo opportunity!

Jingle Jammin’ Jungle Parade

November 7, 2013 – January 2, 2014

 Walt Disney World

Ring in the season with some familiar faces in a wild, yet whimsical setting!

 

This music-filled celebration offers a seasonal twist to the popular Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade. Enjoy a harmonious mix of holiday wonderment, colorful creatures and festive music as Mickey and his friends parade through the park.

Disney’s Contemporary Gingerbread House

November 14, 2013

While the Gingerbread house is always up, you are able to purchase gingerbread goodies of your own from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm!

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa Gingerbread House

November 16, 2013

 Walt Disney World

Construction of the Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is well under way, and once it its open you will be able to purchase gingerbread goodies from the house of your own from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm!

Walt Disney World Resorts

have these great decorations to come soon:

  • Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Gingerbread House
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort Gingerbread Carousel
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort Holiday Train and Village
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Christmas Tree
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa Christmas Tree
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Christmas Tree

If you are looking for a really unique gift, you may want to kick off your holiday shopping at this weekend’s Festival of the Masters at Downtown Disney November 8-10, 2013!

Festival of the Masters

We will be bringing you great information and photos of these great Holiday Celebrations at Walt Disney World! So make sure you follow our holiday adventures on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!

 

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A Closer Look At The Villas At The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

The Disney Vacation Club will be opening their 12th property, The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa on October 23, 2013, so I thought we would take a closer look at the rooms they’ll be offering.

The Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Combining tons of Victorian elegance, fun Disney touches, and state of the art technology The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa are beautiful!

We had a chance to tour the model rooms at the Disney Vacation Club Walt Disney World Preview Center, and while some of the finishes may be different when the resort opens I know I can’t wait to see the finished product.

httpv://youtu.be/qg9IWD2UyuE

There are four room types at the Villas, and they all feature crown molding, granite countertops, and a mirror TV in each bathroom in addition to what guests have come to expect from staying in a Disney Vacation Club room.

Room Types Available At

The Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa:

Deluxe Studio

  • Sleeps up to 5
  • 1 queen-size bed, 1 queen-size sleeper sofa, 1 pull-down bunk size bed
  • Kitchenette
  • Small refrigerator
  • Wet bar
  • Flat panel TV and Blu-ray™ player
  • Full bathroom with separate tub and shower
  • Private porch or balcony

One-Bedroom Villa

  • Sleeps up to 5
  • 1 king-size bed, 1 queen-size sleeper sofa, 1 pull-down bunk-size bed
  • Fully equipped kitchen
  • Dishwasher
  • Refrigerator
  • Stove and oven
  • Washer and dryer
  • Flat panel TV and Blu-ray player
  • Freestanding tub with air jets
  • Walk-in shower
  • Private porch or balcony
The Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
The Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa will feature many of the amenities guests have come to love at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa…especially the larger selection of H2O products found in each bathroom.

Two-Bedroom Villa

  • Sleeps up to 9
  • 1 king-size bed, 2 queen-size beds, 1 queen-size sleeper sofa, 1 pull-down bunk-size bed
  • Fully equipped kitchen
  • Dishwasher
  • Refrigerator
  • Stove and oven
  • Washer and dryer
  • Flat panel TV and Blu-ray player
  • Freestanding tub with air jets
  • Walk-in shower
  • Private porch or balcony

Three-Bedroom Grand Villa

  • Sleeps up to 12
  • 1 king-size bed, 4 queen-size beds, 1 queen-size sleeper sofa
  • Fully equipped kitchen
  • Dishwasher
  • Refrigerator
  • Stove and oven
  • Laundry room with washer and dryer
  • 4 bathrooms – 1 with whirlpool tub and shower, 1 with shower only, and 2 with combination tub/shower
  • Media room with home theater system including flat panel TV and Blu-ray player
  • Flat panel TV in living room and each bedroom, with Blu-ray player in living room
  • Dining room with dining table and chairs
  • Private porch or balcony

Cheryl shared some thoughts comparing The Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa to Bay Lake Tower in this DVC post, and I can’t wait to hear what she thinks of the completed project!

I hope that you enjoyed this look around The Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and don’t forget to join us on October 23rd

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Disney’s Grand Floridian Easter Eggs

The second annual decorative Easter Eggs at Disney’s Grand Floridian hotel are up! But only for a few more days – through Sunday, March 31.

If you walk in the front door of the lobby, you will immediately see these gorgeous eggs. I didn’t get a chance to see them last year, so this was a huge treat for me to stumble upon.

The amount of work and detail put into each of these eggs is amazing. The fact that the Wall-E egg has lights kind of blew my mind. If you’re able to stop by the Grand Floridian before the eggs are egg-stict (sorry, I had to), be sure to do so!

Disney’s Grand Floridian Easter Eggs

IMG_5196IMG_5195 IMG_5194 IMG_5193 IMG_5192 IMG_5197 IMG_5198 IMG_5199 IMG_5200 IMG_5201

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Weekly Review August 27-31: Our Week On The Go!

Weekly Review: August 27 – August 31, 2012: Our Week on The Go!

Hidden Gems of WDW, Orlando City Soccer, Halloween at LEGOLAND Florida, Magic Kingdom in the Fall, And Solar Bears Hockey

 

Its Weekly Review Time!!!! This past week here at On the Go has been full of great stuff, and its almost my favorite time of year which makes me even more excited about all that is going on around Orlando! Now it’s time to look back, with our Weekly Review, at all that happened her at On the Go in MCO August 27th to August 31st!!!

Let’s Go!

On Monday, Megan started the week off with a look at a really fun Hidden Gem at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa!

Grand Floridian Entrance - Weekly Review
Grand Floridian Entrance

Tuesday, Aurora got us pumped up for Orlando City’s upcoming Playoff Game!

Orlando City Soccer  Club - Weekly Review
Cheering for the Orlando City Soccer Club!!!

For this week’s Wordless Wednesday, I looked at the parade that I absolutely adore!

Disney's Main Street Electrical Parade at the Magic Kingdom - Weekly Review
Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade at the Magic Kingdom

LEGOLAND Florida is adding Brick-Or-Treat, a Halloween Celebration, to its special events this year!

LEGOLAND Florida Halloween Brick or treat House - Weekly Review
LEGOLAND Florida Halloween Brick-Or-Treat House

The fall is our favorite time of year here at On the Go in MCO, and Betsy took us around the Magic Kingdom Fall Decorations that have gone up!

Magic Kingdom Fall Decorations - Train Station Weekly Review
Magic Kingdom Fall Decorations on the Main Street Train Station really set the mood for the Fall!

We love our Orlando City Soccer Club, and we wanted to take a more in-depth look at their Playoff Game!

Orlando City Soccer - Weekly Review
Orlando City Soccer Club

And we kept on the sports theme, and ended our week with some information about the Orlando Solar Bears Training Camp that is starting soon!

Orlando Solar Bears - Weekly Review
Orlando Solar Bears

Thanks for joining us for the On the Go Weekly Review, and we can’t wait to bring you even more posts next week!!!

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Grand Floridian Resort Lobby’s Hosts Some Beautiful Hidden Gems

Grand Floridian Resort Lobby’s Hosts Some Beautiful Hidden Gems

The other night I was wandering around the lobby at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, and as I was listening to the band play I stumbled upon something that I had never seemed to notice before.

As I was admiring the amazing tiles that can be found in the Grand Floridian’s Lobby, I looked a little closer and noticed something for the first time.  Hidden in the marble and stone floors of the resort were some of my most favorite characters.  At first I only noticed the silhouettes of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto in the entry of the lobby.  But as I was about to head out to my car, a friendly Grand Floridian cast member, who had seen me admiring the floor of the lobby, asked me if I had seen the other characters around the lobby.  And when I said that I hadn’t seen any of the other characters, he gave me a detailed tour of the lobby and made sure that I saw all the other hidden characters.  Also hidden in the lobby were Tinkerbell, Mrs. Potts, Chip, Peter Pan and Cinderella dancing at the Ball.

One of my favorite details can be found just above where you find Cinderella at the ball. If you go up the staircase, you will find in the carpet that Cinderella’s Carriage is waiting to whisk her home from her night.

I was amazed that even after all the times, and the countless times that I had walked through the lobby of the Grand Floridan, that I had never seen these hidden gems.

It was a great way to explore the Grand Floridian in a way that I hadn’t done before, and now I can’t wait to explore other resorts to see if I can find other hidden characters and gems!

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My Favorite Restaurants At Walt Disney World

We haven’t really focused much on food specifically and thought it was about time we explored this huge part of most guest’s Walt Disney World vacations. Dining in the parks and at the resorts ranges from Uncrustables to hot dogs, sandwiches and other typical park fare like burgers and fries to some of the finest dining in the world. Today I wanted to share with you some of my favorite signature restaurants at WDW. If you have a Tables in Wonderland membership you are able to save 20% (with an automatic 18% gratuity added back in) at these restaurants. The other great feature of the TiW card is that it allows you complimentary valet parking at the Disney resorts with validation showing you used your Tables card on your dinner receipt.

5. Todd English’s Bluezoo (Walt Disney World Dolphin) The restaurant sits on the lower level of the Dolphin at the bottom of the escalator. The decor reminds me of an upscale club or bar, but more subdued with subtle lighting and lots of blue accents. I’ve only been here once back in November of 2009, but the food was fabulous. My mom and my brother treated me to dinner for my 30th birthday, and it was amazing. The seafood seemed so fresh and the service was great. We started the night off with the zooberry (a twist on the blueberry martini). They were so fresh the perfect way to begin our meal. We shared the beet salad and the classico flatbread for appetizers. For an entree I had the teppan seared jumbo sea scallops, which were magnificent and perfectly cooked. The dessert was a lemon meringue pavlova and was complimentary for my birthday, which made it taste even better.

4. Flying Fish (Disney’s Boardwalk Inn) Situated on the Boardwalk, Flying Fish is decorated with whimsical fish flying through the air with parachutes. The resort’s atmosphere reflecting early 20th century seaside fun with rollercoasters and ferris wheels is carried through the restaurant as well. The first time I experienced the restaurant it was August of 2009, and more recently I returned in February of this year. So, the two times I’ve been here I ordered the same exact things for appetizer and entree and was so full that I didn’t get dessert. The cheese platter changes in the featured cheeses, but was great both times. I guess I really like the scallops in the Epcot Resort area because I have ordered the oak-grilled Maine diver scallops each time. Scallops aren’t even my favorite seafood, but I absolutely love them from here.

3. Citrico’s (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) Featuring a Mediterranean theme, Citrico’s is located on the second floor of the Grand Floridian between Mizner’s and Victoria & Albert’s. The decor and the menu reflect the influences of Italy and Greece and are both aesthetically and gastronomically pleasing. Of the restaurants on my top five list, this is the one I have been to the most, having been more than five times, and most recently in the beginning of March. Each time I have been the food has been absolutely fabulous. One of my favorite seasonal appetizers, which they didn’t have this last time, was the gateau of crab. This past time we had a nice cheese and cracker amuse bouche to start our palates on our dining adventure. I tried something new for my entree and was not the least bit disappointed. The Madeira-braised short ribs were so tender, they were falling apart. Wild mushroom ragout and trofie pasta accompany the short ribs along with a truffle creme fraiche. For dessert I did repeat one of my favorites in the seasonal berry gratin with a champagne – Grand Marnier sabayon. It was just as incredible as when I had first had it in November of 2010.

2. Jiko – The Cooking Place (Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge) This is the restaurant I have honestly been craving the most above all others on property. I love the atmosphere here with the gorgeous blue ceiling, setting sunset and beautiful (fake) birds flying overhead. It is an eclectic menu and I like to try different things each time I go. The first time I went was in July of 2008, when I first stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I remember having the ostrich filet as an appetizer and the Kenyan coffee barbecue braised short ribs (another favorite of mine apparently). They were both so tender and falling apart in my mouth as I took each bite. On subsequent visits I have had the Taste of Africa bread and dipping sauce service, kalamata olive flatbread, duck and stonefruit salad, oak grilled filet mignon with mac and cheese, and seared barbarie duck breast. I can say that each of the three times I’ve been, the last time being in November of 2010, the service and the quality of the food have been nothing short of fantastic.

1. Victoria & Albert’s (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) Ah, la creme de la creme. Victoria & Albert’s is a 13 time AAA Five Diamond award winning restaurant. I’ve only been here once, and would love to go back if someone else is paying. This is not to say that the price isn’t worth it (I want to say it was about $475 for two with the wine pairing and gratuity included AFTER my Tables in Wonderland discount), it is. I’d just prefer to have someone else pay, and I’d like to do chef’s table next time. But I digress. This meal is easily within my top five, if not top three meals I’ve ever eaten. The service was beyond impeccable. Situated on the second floor of the Grand Floridian, Victoria & Albert’s is hidden behind large wooden doors with frosted windows. The decor is a refined elegance not to be found elsewhere at a Disney restaurant. It is one of only a few Five Diamond restaurants in the state of Florida. I went with my mom for my 29th birthday present in 2008 and it was an incredible dining experience. There were amuse bouche, palate cleansers, about seven courses, coffee, dessert, and the aforementioned wine pairing to go with each course. This is most definitely a culinary experience, not simply a meal. You need every bit of the three plus hours they warn you about when you book. One of my favorite aspects of the pre-arrival communications with the restaurant is the conversation about your allergies, likes and dislikes. This is so the restaurant can customize your menu to you so you are not being served something for hundreds of dollars that you do not enjoy. I don’t recall the specific menu items, as there were so many, but there wasn’t one I didn’t like. I’ve included a picture of the general menu for the evening. Each guest also receives a personalized copy of their menu to take home, which I am unable to locate at the moment.

 

Have you been to any of these restaurants? If so, what were your thoughts? Do you have any favorites?

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It was the best of trips, it was the worst of trips

Family picture

Have you ever had one of those trips that you planned, but nothing seemed to go the way you had hoped? This couldn’t have been a bigger understatement to describe my family trip in December of 2007. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. Let me set the stage a bit. I have a background in hospitality management and used to work for one of the better known and respected hotel chains in the country. One of the greatest things about working for a national chain like that is you are typically entitled to discounts at the same brand and affiliates under the parent company’s umbrella of hotels. This afforded me the opportunity to travel to Orlando (again I live in Bradenton, about 100 miles away from WDW), once or twice a month since I was able to procure rates of $29 a night at hotels where it would usually cost well over $100 at rack rate. Because of this, I only stayed on property once in 1998 at Caribbean Beach Resort, and then a handful of times at the value resorts from 2000 – 2006. It was not until the end of 2007 that I was able to revisit property and stay at another one of the moderate resorts, and subsequently my favorite, Port Orleans French Quarter.

On this particular trip, I was accompanied by my mom, who was going to share a room with me to cut down costs, since this was the week of Christmas, and my brother, Andrew, was getting a room to himself. Andrew had just returned from 18 months of serving in Iraq with the Army and was looking forward to unwinding at the parks. We were just going for the weekend and returning Monday since it was Christmas Eve. I wish we were able to stay longer since I was off four days in a row, but we had family commitments at home for Christmas.

Hurricanes

We started off the trip by checking in to French Quarter, unpacking, and then decided we would head to Universal’s City Walk to have dinner and visit Pat O’Brien’s. Due to lack of planning, and partly due to my affinity for the music, we ended up having dinner at Bob Marley’s Tribute to Freedom. The food was good and we enjoyed a couple adult beverages between dinner and listening to the dueling pianos at Pat O’s.

We returned to Disney property to catch the midnight showing of National Treasure 2. Now the movie really isn’t an important detail of the story, but in my mind it is inextricably linked with this trip. I still can’t watch it to this day without being reminded of this night. During the climax of the movie, my brother got sick. We didn’t see the end of the movie, needless to say, and were on our way back to French Quarter, now at about 2:30am.

Beignets

The next day was at a snail’s pace around Epcot due to dealing with Andrew who was still not feeling well. He couldn’t even stand to be around food yet, so we snuck down and grabbed some beignets before leaving the resort mid morning. Eventually we convinced him he should eat and had a nice late lunch at Les Chefs de France. Kindly Andrew bought me a new WDW hoodie and even renewed my mom’s and my pass as a Christmas present (and out of guilt I think). We hopped over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to enjoy the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights for our first time. We were planning on dinner at 50’s Prime Time Cafe, but had canceled our ADR when we realized it wasn’t worth it. By the time dinner rolled around Andrew seemed mostly human again and wanted to eat so we ended up get a walk up and eating in the Tune In Lounge.

 

Osborne Lights

Sunday was the last day of our trip, as we were scheduled to be in church Monday evening for Christmas Eve with family. We checked out of French Quarter and spent our last day in the Magic Kingdom. For the first time we saw Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, which has a totally different feel during the day as opposed to at night during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The day was enjoyable, but rather uneventful compared to the two previous days. Dinner was going to be at Citrico’s at the Grand Floridian at 8pm, so we left MK shortly after seven to give us time to admire the decorations at the resort. As soon as we stepped off the monorail and into the second floor of the hotel, Andrew asked why we hadn’t stayed there. I reminded him it was two days before Christmas and the most expensive pricing of the year and he had wanted his own room, so the $250/night at French Quarter was rich enough for our blood. At this point, none of us had stayed at a deluxe resort, so it is understandable that he was impressed.

Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade

As always, Citrico’s was fabulous and beyond satiating. While splitting our dessert, Andrew and I declared we didn’t want to leave. He wanted to stay another night, and I wasn’t really relishing the thought of the almost two hour drive home after dinner and a full day in the parks. My mom asked our server if they knew if there was any availability for the night and he insisted they were completely sold out. Coming back to that hospitality background, I know there are often reservations that are canceled last minute and dates are occasionally changed, so my mom went down to the front desk to investigate. After we paid the bill Andrew and I joined our mom in the lobby as she had found that there were actually two rooms available after she had been speaking to the front desk cast member, Christina, for a bit about my brother’s return from Iraq. We were given the option of a standard room in the outer building with a garden view or an outer building room that was club level. As we had just eaten dinner and were going to leave in the morning, we opted for the standard room as it was still $500+ for the one night (again this was two days before Christmas and we were thankful for the room).

 

We completed the check in process and were told by Christina that the manager, Stephan, would be escorting us to our room. We found this especially puzzling since we were staying in an outer building and it was almost 11pm. Stephan emerged from the front desk, greeted us and led us across the lobby to the elevator for guest rooms in the main building. Following unquestioningly, we stood behind Stephan as he allowed a couple to enter the elevator before us. We said hello and he had a brief conversation with the couple as they apparently knew each other. After letting the other guests get off, Stephan asked us if we knew who they were. We were clueless and he informed us that we had just met Mr. and Mrs. Jennings Osborne, as in the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights we had enjoyed the night before at the Studios. I never would have guessed! The guy was a millionaire many times over and was relaxing in cargo shorts and a Hawaiian print shirt. Still fazed by that, Stephan led us off the elevator on the fifth floor and to the other side of the landing. He stopped before a set of double doors and we stood there still confused.

Stephan turned and faced my brother and said that it was his honor to thank Andrew for his service to our country and this was Disney’s way of giving just a little back to him. He opened the door and we were stunned as we were shown into our two bedroom suite. It was like something out of a dream. I was pretty sure it was one of the suites Samantha Brown had shown in her visit of the Grand Floridian on her show Great Hotels. I tried to play it cool until Stephan left, but we were awestruck. To go from a standard room in French Quarter to the third largest suite in the flagship resort for our first stay club level, or even at a deluxe resort for that matter, was incredible. I about lost it as soon as Stephan left. The room was by far the nicest hotel room I had ever stayed in and I think that probably stands to this day.

My mom and I eventually realized my car was still parked at the Magic Kingdom parking lot with our stuff, so as Andrew decided to sleep, we went to fetch our luggage and to move the car. After swinging by the front desk to profusely thank Christina and Stephan for their generous upgrade (the suite goes for over $2,500/night), we returned to the room with new found energy. Andrew was exhausted, so we let him sleep as we opted to return to MK for Extra Magic Hours until 4am. We got back in the park around 2am and walked on to every ride we wanted to at that hour. The CMs were even asking us if we wanted to ride again since the parks were almost completely empty, but we kept moving. The euphoria and bewilderment still didn’t wear off after we got into bed around 5am.

We didn’t sleep a whole lot that night. We woke up around 9am and ordered private dining (Disney’s fancy name for room service) and then packed up and headed home to get ready for church. The day was kind of a daze, but like nothing we could have ever dreamt of in a million years. The trip that had started off so beyond horribly had done a complete 180 and made us so appreciative of the annoyances we had gone through to get there. I guess it all works out in the end. It really was the best of trips and the worst of trips all rolled in to one, but thankfully in the opposite order.

 

Master bedroom
Master bathroom
View from master balcony
Living room
Bar area in living room
Christmas tree and living room balcony
Looking from living room to half bath
Looking from foyer into second bedroom
Another bar area between second bedroom and bath
Second full bathroom
Desk and vanity in second bedroom
Second bedroom
Looking from balcony into second bedroom
View from second bedroom balcony
Partners and castle pic during EMH circa 4am
Sun rising over Seven Seas Lagoon and yes we slept with the door open
View of the Polynesian and Wedding Pavilion
Grand Floridian beach
Private dining
Enjoying breakfast
Mickey waffle with strawberries
I could see Epcot from bed 🙂
Grand Floridian lobby from the fifth floor
Gingerbread house

My mom and I stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge the following summer and ran into Stephan working as a manager there and he remembered us immediately. We spent quite some time revisiting that night in conversation with him. The next year, Andrew, my mom and I were staying at the Boardwalk Villas and ran into Christina from the front desk working recreation and she remembered us, even telling us that was still one of her favorite magical moments she was able to share as a CM. She was moving to transportation at the Magic Kingdom the following day and we ran into her on the docks working the ferryboat. Stephan is now a manager at the Yacht Club and I occasionally stop in and visit him there. It was really nice to be able to share the experience with my family, but I’d rather not have a repeat of the first half of the trip. Things like this are why I keep supporting the Disney brand. Making magical moments for guests is something that Cast Members enjoy and makes me appreciate every last bit of magic I come across.

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Holiday Resort Hopping – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort And Spa

This year I thought it would be fun to go Holiday Resort Hopping, since it was something that we had always wanted to do during our holiday visits but could never find the time.

I thought I would start with Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, because we ran through it last year and I wanted to take a better look at the decorations throughout the Main Building.

Nothing says Christmas at the Grand Floridian like the smell of gingerbread that hits you as soon as the doors to the lobby open! I found so many little details on the super-sized gingerbread Victorian House that I missed last year!!!

I am in LOVE with the all little period details and opulence of the trees and wreaths spread throughout the hallways and walls of the building.

I hope you enjoy some of my favorite pictures of the decorations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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